Promises, Promises

Two at the price of one this weekend- promises kept, that is! The fabulous Thomas Keller AdHoc lamb meatball recipe as I promised in this post last Wednesday and ten cooking tips from the Aspen Food and Wine Classic that I promised in this post. Happy cooking!

Thomas Keller’s AdHoc Lamb Meatballs

Ingredients: 4 teaspoons olive oil; 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion; 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic; 3/4 cup finely diced zucchini; 2 tablespoons of preserved lemon or cured lemon, lightly rinsed, finely chopped.; 1 pound ground lamb; large egg yolks; 2 teaspoons bread crumbs.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the lamb, egg yolks, and bread crumbs in a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix well together and set aside.

Heat a medium size frying pan over medium heat. Pour the oil in and allow to heat till warm. Add the onion and garlic. Sprinkle salt and pepper and cook about translucent- about one minute.

Add the zucchini (your food processor won’t get this done unless the food processor is you) and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemons. Allow this mixture to cool.

Combine the veggie mix to the lamb mix.

Make 1 inch meatballs – you will probably get around 20-24 meatballs. Place them on the parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and put the baking sheet in the oven for 12-14 minutes.

Don’t be surprised when you take them out and they look much much smaller. For some reason, they shrink. But they are the tastiest morsels you can get your hands on. Serve them with rice, with polenta, or with a side of chickpeas. Or serve them by themselves with just a dash of mint and a bit of orange or lemon zest.

Ten Cooking/Food Tips Learned at the Aspen Food and Wine Classic

1. For preserved or cured lemons (like in this recipe or this one), use thin skin lemons and wash them well in hot water before using to remove the wax and bacteria. – Thomas Keller

2. Always break the shell of an egg on a flat surface, not on the side of a bowl, glass, etc like most do because that way the shell doesn’t break and go into whatever you are making with the egg white. –Jacques Pepin [disclaimer- while this made sense at the time, I am still working on not getting most of the egg on the flat surface when I do that]

3. Anything you cook [think heat], you want to wash in warm water and not cold. It gets cleaner that way. – Thomas Keller

4. Don’t put lemon on grave lox or salmon tartar before you serve it because it discolors the fish. Put lemon in tartar right before you serve it and serve grave lox with a slice of lemon for the guest to drizzle right before eating. – Jacques Pepin

5. You can buy harissa! [what rock was I living under? I suppose that's what happens when you think about making everything from scratch] The Harissa sauce that Tom Collicchio and Gail Simmons used in their presentation was thisone. - Tom Colicchio

6. When you cook a dish from a specific region, try to get as many of that region’s specific products as possible- it will bring your dish together. – Mario Batali

7. Ceramic knives are good for as long as they stay sharp, but, like any knife they get dull. The problem is you can’t re-sharpen them. – Masaharu Morimoto

8. When you clean a fish of bones, insides etc and you set it aside, always place the two halves of the fish either skin to skin or flesh to flesh but never combining them because the fishiness of the skin will contaminate the flesh. –Masaharu Morimoto

9. To make flavorful, amazing food, throw your old spices out and get new ones. Toast, cook, prepare things to order! –Mario Batali [not that this came as a surprise or anything!]

10. Melba toast and Peach Melba were dishes created by Escoffier for Nellie Melba a renowned Australian opera soprano. [who knew!]-

Jacques Pepin

Bonus tip- on cutting onions- The sharper the knife, the less you cry (also the title of a book favorite of mine- this one!) unless you cut your finger of course. Apparently a sharp cuts cleanly without breaking the onion’s cells and keeping the sulfur compounds in the onion (a good thing you want to consume). - Jacques Pepin


Photography by Jennifer Olson

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  • Pierce

    You had me with the lamb! I also find lamb shrinks as it cooked, grilled pieces included. This looks absolutely fantastic and when I give it a try, I will link to your post.

    Loved all the tips, but #3 was something I should have thought of all along. Doh! Great post and thank you for checking out Cook the Books :-)

  • bunkycooks

    I love the cooking tip. Friends just gave me a set of ceramic knives and raved how much they enjoy them. I guess I will use them until they go dull!

    What fun to have attended the Aspen event!

  • kattyskitchen

    These look fantastic–I'd love to try them!

  • Sara (The Saucy Dipper)

    Sharp knives prevent onion tears? I had no idea. Great bonus tip.

    Like the looks of your meatballs too. Think I might have to add those ingredients to this week's shopping list.

  • Katherine

    What tips! Fantastic! Thank you for sharing!
    I love having sharp knives. I've gotten into the habit for sharpening my knives quite often, to prevent any dulling what-so-ever.
    But I never knew that they would prevent onion tears – but then again, I don't experience onion tears.

  • Cristina

    Like that there's zucchini in these lamb meatballs. Must be great with rice or pasta.

    How fun that must have been to attend the Aspen F&W event…so envious!

  • Lisa {Authentic Suburban Gourmet }

    Those meatballs look fantastic. I have the Ad Hoc cookbook and you have inspired me to look through it today. Great tips!

  • Nicole

    Who doesn't love meatballs? Great blog. Thanks for sharing

  • The Mom Chef

    Masaharu Morimoto is my hero with a knife. I love watching him and his team in Iron Chef America. Thanks for those tips.

  • Sharlene (Wheels and Lollipops)

    I'm always searching for the perfect meatball – going to give these a try

  • Priscilla – She’s Cookin’

    We share our love for Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc! Thanks for sharing the tips from Aspen Food & Wine and Ad Hoc's lamb meatballs with your beautiful photos! Now its my turn :)

  • Lori Lynn

    Love the tips! I put zucchini in my meatballs too, but shredded. I will try the small dice.

  • Gitte

    Sharp knife, I thought perhaps it was because you can cut the onion faster hence less tears…no? :) Great looking lamb meatballs!

  • Chef Dennis

    Great tips!! your lamb meatballs look so very good, and your recipe is very interesting….preserved lemon, I have never used, and zucchini in them is a really nice addition!
    I bet they were very tasty

  • Sashi

    I love lamb.The meat balls look so delicious and tasty I could eat all of them by myself.

  • mysimplefood

    your Lamb meatballs looks fantastic.